Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bologna 'buoyant' despite travel delays

24.03.10 | Benedicte Page in The Bookseller

Widespread travel problems have caused disruption at the start of this years Bologna Book Fair, with the British Airways cabin crew strike bringing cancellations and delays to publishers arriving to set up their stands.

Many were forced to reroute journeys via Paris, Milan or Rome, using  Air France, Al Italia and even the Eurostar. Meanwhile a one-day baggage handlers' strike also affected travellers arriving at Bologna Airport.

Organisers kept the fair site open until 10pm on Monday evening (22nd March) to allow extra time for publishers to prepare but a few were still setting up as the four day event began on Tuesday morning.

Scout John McLay said rebooking his cancelled flights had cost £700 for an economy ticket. "I've yet to meet anyone who's paid more to get to Bologna, even from Australia," he said.

However the mood at the fair was positive, with some US editors returning after last year's absence, although not in pre-recession numbers.

Carla Alonzi, head of rights at Harpercollins, said the HC stand had back-to-back appointments. "People are coming for two days instead of three and a half, but they have done their homework in advance, looking at catalogues online, and are here to be industrious," she said.

McLay said: "The Random House party on the eve of the fair was very busy. Editors are back, the film scouts are here, and it just seems more buoyant," he said.

More than 1,200 exhibitors, from over 60 foreign countries, will exhibit at the fair, which runs from Tuesday to Friday this week.

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